CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Cambodia"

Some Reasons for New Tensions Over Cambodia’s Debt

by Joshua Kurlantzick
hun-sen-debt Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen smiles as he arrive at the National Assembly of Cambodia during a plenary session, in central Phnom Penh, on February 20, 2017. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

In recent months, the issue of Cambodia’s Indochina War-era debt to the United States, for which the U.S. government still demands repayment, has resurfaced once again. A recent lengthy New York Times article outlines the current situation, which has also been covered by Southeast Asian media. The Cambodian government is asking Washington to forgive a loan made to the Lon Nol government to buy essential items, at a time when U.S. bombing and the growing civil war in Cambodia had driven large numbers of refugees into Phnom Penh. Read more »

Japanese Offense, Tencent Meets Tesla, North Korean Hackers, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Japan-SDF A Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) official is silhouetted during an air show at the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base, Japan, on October 23, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lorand Laskai, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. LDP eyes offensive push for Japan. A policy research group in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is pushing for the adoption of new long-range offensive capabilities. Consisting primarily of former defense ministers, former deputy defense ministers, and former parliamentary vice ministers, the LDP group urged the government to begin considering a change to Japan’s military stance, citing a “new level of threat” from North Korea. Read more »

Malaysia’s Front Office Role in Enabling North Korean WMD Procurement

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol (C), who was expelled from Malaysia, is escorted as he arrives at Kuala Lumpur international airport in Sepang, Malaysia March 6, 2017. (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

North Korea continues to evade UN sanctions designed to prevent its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development by embedding its agents and intermediaries within the international trading system, according to the latest assessment of the UN Panel of Experts set up to monitor North Korean compliance with international sanctions. Read more »

Podcast: A Great Place to Have a War

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A Buddhist monk poses next to unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S. Air Force planes during the Vietnam War, in Xieng Khouang in Laos September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva A Buddhist monk poses on September 3, 2016, next to unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S. Air Force planes during the Vietnam War in Xieng Khouang in Laos. The United States dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos in the course of the war. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

While Vietnam and Cambodia loom large in American memories of the Vietnam War, neighboring Laos recedes into the background. But during the 1960s and 1970s, the tiny, landlocked nation was the site of the CIA’s transformation from a loosely organized spy agency to a powerful paramilitary organization. Read more »

Trump’s Asia, Delhi’s Smog, Park’s New PM, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A member of student activist group, League of Filipino Students, displays an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as he chants anti-U.S. slogans during a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, on November 10, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Asia braces for Trump. On Tuesday night, as results from the U.S. general election poured in from polling places across America, Asian markets reeled at the prospect of a Trump presidency. By Thursday, U.S. markets stabilized and Asian markets had bounced back. But what will a Trump in the White House mean for Asia in the coming four years? At this point, even experts’ best guesses are still uncertain. Read more »

Where Next for Cambodian Politics?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
kem-sokha-cambodia Kem Sokha (C), leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), greets his supporters during his speech at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, on September 9, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past two years, Cambodia’s government has steadily ramped up the pressure on the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as on any civil society activists and journalists who question the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). In just the past year, security forces have cracked down on demonstrators holding regular Monday protests, while the government has pursued criminal charges against opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy. In July, someone murdered prominent activist Kem Ley in broad daylight at a gas station, and while police have arrested one suspect, the motive for why he would kill the activist remains murky. Read more »

Cambodia’s Democratic Transition Has Collapsed, With Dangerous Consequences

by Joshua Kurlantzick
cambodia Tens of thousands of people attend a funeral procession to carry the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of a grassroots advocacy group, "Khmer for Khmer" who was shot dead on July 10, to his hometown, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 24, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. Read more »

Q&A on Cambodia with Sophal Ear

by Joshua Kurlantzick
hun-sen-cambodia A Cambodian Muslim supporter takes a selfie with President of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen (C), after a ceremony at the party headquarters to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the party in Phnom Penh on June 28, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Last week, I spoke via email with Sophal Ear, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College, and author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy, about the current crisis in Cambodian politics. After a brief truce following elections in 2013, in which the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) shocked the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) by nearly winning control of the National Assembly, any semblance of détente has broken down. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Philippines-decision-waiting Activists watch an announcement by a government official regarding a ruling on the South China Sea disputes by an arbitration court in the Hague at a restaurant in Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Asia reacts to the South China Sea decision. The ruling of the arbitral tribunal in the Philippines’ case against China regarding the South China Sea sent ripples across the region. The Chinese government responded with an unequivocal rejection and state media irately critiqued the tribunal’s award, which included a ruling that China was not entitled to historic rights in the waters and that the Spratly Islands—alone or individually—do not generate any exclusive economic zones. Read more »

Cambodia’s Turn Toward Authoritarianism (Again)

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at an event to celebrate Children's Day in Phnom Penh May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at an event to celebrate Children's Day in Phnom Penh on May 31, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past year, any hopes that Cambodia, where national elections almost led to a change in government three years ago, was headed toward a democratic transition, have been fully dashed. Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) are again taking complete control of the kingdom. In fact, as the country prepares for the next national elections, to be held in 2018, Hun Sen appears to be resorting to his usual combination of repressing opposition politicians and co-opting a small number of his opponents. These harsh but skillful tactics have helped him become the longest-serving non-royal ruler in Asia, surviving one of the most tumultuous political environments in the world. Read more »